What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 2 of 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

person standing on slope glacier mountain
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

To have a relationship with Jesus is to have a relationship with God. For that connection to be so personal and close, is indeed amazing. In part 1 of this post, I explained God’s side of this two-way agreement.  Today, let us discover how to react to his unending love.

Our positive and meaningful response to God

One quote from Jesus that has received a lot of press, is “Love your neighbor.” Most people seem to have heard it whether they know where it came from or not. Many probably are not aware it is only part of a powerful statement.

A man asked Jesus which one of all God’s rules and regulations was the most important. Jesus’ surprising answer was this: 

”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”  (Mark 12:30).

As I see it and believe other scriptures support, heart is equated with emotions, soul with faithfulness, mind with knowledge and understanding, and strength with will. We can feel sincere love for him, put him above all else, study the Bible to know him, and choose to obey his words. 

“The second is this,” Jesus continued. “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? Our side of the relationship with God is to love him and love others. How does that look in the day-to-day?

We do what God says: 1 John 5:3 “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…”

We believe and love: 1 John 3:2And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

We practice love: 1 John 3: 16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

We study the Bible as a whole: Psalm 1:1,2   “Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

We study the Bible to grow our faith: Romans 10:17  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

We pray: Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We do not hold back in prayer: Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Mental health needs to love and be loved. Love is an action, and a choice we make each day, that can overpower thoughts to the contrary. Love is not apathy. Love is what God wants. Love is who he is.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:13-16

  “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

 God is love…” 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 1 of 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

25305931 helping hands

It probably sounds strange to think a person can have a personal relationship with deity. Yet that is where faith begins.

Positive and meaningful relationships are two-way. The best ones also meet the needs of each person. With God, there is no failure on his part to provide validation, acceptance, and endless love.

Our connection to God is through Jesus, as he is quoted in the Bible in the book of John (14:6).  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” It is God’s only begotten Son’s sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection that makes relationship with him, and eternal life possible.  

Rather than arrogant, his is an invitation to the amazing life-giving presence of God. 

God’s positive and meaningful connection with us

God knows every second of our existence, every thought, every deed, what we have done and felt, and what others have done to us. He knows us and shares in our joy and sorrow. This is validation that who we are and what we experience matters.

God knows us: Psalm 139:1-5  “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

God shares in human sorrow: Exodus 3:7  “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

God loves us enough to take action. Yes, he accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us there. God proved he values us when he moved beyond “so loved the world” to “gave his only begotten son.” As another example, we also read that compassion moved Jesus many times to heal the sick and feed crowds.

God’s love acts: John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God supports us in trouble: Psalm 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

God’s love and acceptance of us as individuals is proven in that he knew how we would cause him pain, and made us anyway. He is always calling and revealing himself.

God welcomes us: Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God forgives when we ask:  Psalm 130:3-4   “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Mental health is more accessible when we have validation, acceptance, and active love from another person. My relationship with Jesus gives me all of that and more in spades.

If you want more information on where I stand, see my statement of faith page. The next blog will describe how we respond in this relationship. What does God get out of it?

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 14:23 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Have You Learned to Not Trust Relationships? Here are 5 Other Ways to Look at It

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Distrust in relationships is comparable to the experience of a man who has no interest in daring exploits and yet receives a gift certificate for a free bungee jumping course.

He feels some obligation to the giver and does not want to disappoint. Consequently, the wary recruit slowly makes his way to the site while the question to undertake the exercise or not lingers unresolved in his mind.

Each tentative step is agonizing. His natural inclination is to run away, however his original motive and a desire to deny his fear compels him forward.

Conversations with regular jumpers and trained professionals draw assurances it is safe. They show off the equipment as the unlikely participant handles it, tugging, and feeling its strength. It seems it might be secure.

He watches as others jump successfully and listens attentively to the experts who seem to know their sport. Only now, it is his turn. Strapped tightly to the bungee cord, he daringly allows his feet to leave solid ground.

That is when it hits him.

He is now in mid-air, his fate completely dependent on the honesty and knowledge of the people above. He might mumble an expletive under his breath at this point or scream loudly. He possibly thinks, This cord might break, or they may walk away and leave me dangling here, and it will be my fault for trusting.

Allowing built-in fears to override current reality is similar to that scenario, except that those conditioned to doubt people and fear relationships experience the walk to the bungee jump site each time they have an opportunity to trust.

Past poor judgment calls have left them sore and more apprehensive than ever. Not only do they struggle to have faith in other people, the terror of having confidence in oneself is the shaky base underneath it all.

Can this change? I say yes.

5 ways to look at trust

  1. Caution is wisdom. The first time someone reveals to you that he or she is  untrustworthy – believe it.
  2. Reconsider what you learned about trust. Is trust really all or nothing? Is everyone a liar except you?
  3. Reconsider the ones who taught you to distrust. Were they emotionally capable of trust themselves?  Were they bitter?  Are they narcissistic?
  4. Build a support system of safe people. Take your time, but do not stall out.
  5. Trust is easier once we experience it. Over the years, my trust in God’s goodness has grown. There is much more to know about his character than what some people say in reaction to difficulties. Like a beginner bungee jumper, trusting enough to take the first step toward God will open your worldview.

That first step is sincerely reaching out to his Son, Jesus.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 33: 2-5

Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety and Fear Do Not Hold All the Power!

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Photo by Cesar Galeão on Pexels.com

Fear and anxiety dressed up as self-doubt is frustrating.  

Saul was a young man who stood by and watched the stoning death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. One sentence in Saul’s story tells what we need to know about his heart. 

“And Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 8:1).

Saul’s name was changed to Paul after an encounter with the risen Jesus.  He then became who we now know as Saint Paul, a Christian preacher and church planter of the first century AD, who wrote much of the New Testament under the inspiration of God.

Paul admitted to a “thorn” in his flesh – that is, something that bugged him and made life more difficult. His issue was not clarified for the readers, so we are left to guess.

Could it have been self-doubt?

He had been a religiously proud and zealous man, a leader once admired.  Is it possible then, that without the trappings of a Pharisee and the power of that religious order behind him he may have felt weaker?

He helped to murder early followers of Jesus. How might any one of us deal with trying to teach the families and co-believers of our victims?

Maybe Paul wondered every day what he was doing- maybe he had to start out each morning in faith, trusting that his weakness was the very thing that kept him humble and productive for God’s work.

I do not know, theologians do not know what Paul meant by “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me…”. all we have are hints. For example, the context of this story is Paul answering an accusation of cowardice.  

He wrote,” You are judging by appearances…  I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:7, 9-10).

In another letter, this one to a new pastor, Paul wrote, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Could he have known that truth due to personal experience? 

It makes sense that he may have fought self-doubt when face to face with those he once sought to kill. These types of struggles are real, and daily. In person and in his letters, Paul stood up for what is true. Maybe he was a bit quiet and shy (I do not know), but he did not fail to say it like it is.  That would be the Spirit of God at work in him. 

I am writing to myself today because anxiety plays a large role in how far I push my potential. It frustrates and badgers me until I submit much too much of the time. 

No, self-doubt, timidity, anxiety, and fear are not from the Spirit of God. He promises us power when we feel powerless, love for others when we are self-absorbed, and self-discipline when fear threatens to paralyze our every good intention. Overcoming negative emotions is not always a quick work.  Sometimes, our thorn remains, and we have to keep walking anyway.

It is because of his power that I speak the truth about my past and current weaknesses when I would rather hide. It is his love that motivates me to share publicly so other hurting people will know hope.  Jesus was and is the way where there seems to be no other way.  

Wherever I am, it is Jesus I desire most to honor. Whatever Paul’s thorn, he said the same.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-St. Paul

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 3)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

Saying yes to our and God’s priorities, means saying no to extra service opportunities that take up our time and resources. This is not to say we never help or become involved! In the last two posts and today’s, I show you that love practices boundaries.

Godly boundaries focus on what God has already asked of us. This leads to a life balance in which we can glorify God with peace, joy, and freedom in Christ.

1. Aren’t boundaries selfish? I’m supposed to be focusing on others. Boundaries are godly because they allow us to be who God wants. God blesses us with individual purposes. If we say yes to gain approval from humans, we may become co-dependent or a doormat. Living for someone’s happiness means we are not living to please God. We will not develop into the person he designed.

God also blesses us with individual purposes

Jesus refused distractions. In the end, he was able to say to our Heavenly Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

2. If I do not do help, who will?  Boundaries are godly because they allow others to step up and grow. In light of individual purposes, by taking on too much we may interfere with growth opportunities for another Christian. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:6, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of  them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

3, I want people to know they can count on me. How do boundaries fit in?  Boundaries are godly because people need to depend on the Lord. By playing savior and trying to fix people or their problems, we deny them the learning process we all need to grow in faith. We have this declaration, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1,2.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him (our agendas and daily schedules), and he will make your paths straight.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 2)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

adult blur close up cold
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

As Christians, we are often taught to give of oneself, to share, and to help where we can. “Love your neighbor” is a call many of us take seriously.

However, boundaries are wise. In the last post, this one and the next, I tell you why.

1. How can boundaries be loving? Boundaries are godly because they free us to love our neighbor . Have you helped until you were over your head? Were you tempted to shut yourself in and never again say yes to anyone? Contrary to what we often assume, love sets boundaries.

Individuals who actually make a difference in positive, meaningful, and effective ways, are careful not to make easy promises. By this they avoid failing to deliver on impulsively offered ones. When we learn healthy boundaries, we remain a steadfast friend, as supposed to walking away in frustration.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even the Good Samaritan did not stick around to serve the beaten man hand and foot. After doing what he could, he went on to live his own life.

2. What about Christian duty?  Boundaries are godly because they prevent resentment and allow us to give with joy. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul the Apostle is thanking the Corinthian church for offering a generous gift to struggling believers in Macedonia. He wrote, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

This concept is not only about money. We give of our time and energy best if we know when to say no.

3.  I say yes if a church leader needs me. That’s godly submission, right?  Boundaries are godly because saying no is often self-control. We said yes to certain responsibilities when we married, had children, accepted a job, or built up debt. It is God’s will for us to mind the promises we have made. Potential good deeds that stop us from obeying him in these matters must be rejected, however noble they are. This takes self-control. The result is freedom. In Proverbs 15:28 we read, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.”

Today’s Helpful Word  

Galatians 5: 22-23a, 25

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. …Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 1)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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If you feel unkind unless you agree to help when asked, consider the following.

Boundaries are what we stop ourselves from accepting in our lives, not what we stop another person from doing. We have no control over people’s choices or external events. How we choose to react is our responsibility.

1. Are boundaries a godly choice?  Jesus set this example. When the Savior of the world preached and healed the crying masses, he did not stay and fix everyone’s problems. He was teaching us that it is not only necessary to say no sometimes, it is godly to love fully with boundaries in place.

2. It is easier to say yes when I mean no. How can boundaries help? Boundaries are godly because they keep us honest. Have you agreed, with a smile, to volunteer in the church while inwardly groaning, “Noooooooooo”? Of course Christians who are serious about their faith want to show love. However, Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere…”

Sometimes, secret preferences are expressed through indirect means like passive/aggressive behavior, manipulation, complaining, or anger. For these reasons, expressing honest boundaries is kind.

If time, skill, or energy are lacking, we do not have to pretend we are available. Ephesians 4:25-30 tells us “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.“

3. Isn’t it best to patiently wait for a person to change?  Boundaries are godly because they prevent us from enabling sin. God held to boundaries with ancient Israel. He set out laws, and warned against breaking them. Those who insisted on rebellion sometimes received further warning. Finally, he removed his blessings until they repented. This was love. He knew his way was best for all concerned.

This principle guides us in toxic situations and relationships in which we end up making excuses for the one who wrongs us. We continue to move our boundaries to accommodate them, and eventually lose our peace of mind (or safety).

Arrows shot in our direction are not ours to catch! Proverbs 22:3 says “ A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge…“

Today’s Helpful Word  

Mark 1:35-39 
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Refer People Who Hurt to Professional Mental Healthcare

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

25285772 young woman consoles senior adult female

A sixty year old woman had two grown sons in their late twenties still living at home. They stole food, borrowed the car without asking, and paid no rent. The mother grew severely depressed over this, as every line she drew, her husband erased.

“I don’t think I can take much more”, she said. “I need someone to hear me, talk with me, and help me make it through another day.”

Occasionally we may run into someone whose mood appears deeper than most. It is short-sighted, and indeed dangerous to play diagnostician. Unless we are highly trained in psychology and therapeutic processes (at least a Master’s degree), we cannot claim to know what anyone needs. Our experience alone is not an accurate measure of the pain, disorder, or mental health of someone else. 

How can we suggest a troubled person see a professional? 

A general fear of making such a suggestion is that the person may become angry or upset. The key to any kind of diplomacy is calm, respect, and truth. 

Option 1:  “I care about your well-being. Your needs are greater than I can meet. How about seeing a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, to find out if more can be done medically or through therapy?”

At that point, you may offer to find such a doctor or drive to the first appointment. If the person you are referring prefers to start with his or her General Practitioner, help to compile a thorough list of symptoms to take to the doctor’s office. 

Option 2:  “Many people who have felt hopeless have found greater satisfaction and well-being through a combination of medication and therapy. I’d like to see that happen for you.”

You may offer them a list of resources, and perhaps make the calls. 

Option 3:  “All this may seem hopeless to you now, but situations and people can change. Do you think your family would agree to family counseling? Even so, you deserve to focus on yourself until you regain a sense of control over your well-being. A therapist could teach you how to cope more easily.”

Option 4:  I’m concerned about your mood. Let me take you to the ER for an assessment. They will give you appropriate recommendations. I’m uncertain about your safety.” 

Smile with a non-judgmental attitude. Show you care through sincere, non-critical acceptance.

Option 5:  In an extreme case of suicidal threats, say,  “What you are telling me is important. I will take you to the hospital now or call 911. Which do you prefer?”

Every one I have met who has lost someone to suicide still struggles with the question, “why?” Many carry false guilt wondering, “What should I have done differently?” 

I try to remember I’d rather have someone mad at me than dead. A loved one I forced to go to the hospital was angry for years. The loaded shotgun found laying openly on the floor by his bed resolved any regret I may have momentarily felt. 

It is hard to confront people this way sometimes. It is worth it to see them healthy and whole.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Corinthians 13:7 

Love … It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas for Supporting People Who Hurt

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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picture from MELOD12 on rgbstock.com

When someone speaks of a friend or loved one who is currently struggling with depression, what follows most often is, “I’ll leave them alone. They need their space.”

To me, that may be the saddest myth about emotional stress. Depression is the number one common denominator across all human suffering. Very few people want to be left alone in the midst of that kind of pain.

The question left for supports is, how do I let this person know I care without getting in over my head? Here are three categories from which to choose.

Include the person with depression whenever possible, but do not expect him or her to keep up right away. 

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas

You have more time and energy to spare:

  • offer to find a doctor or therapist; take them to first visit
  • laundry/ housework help 
  • mow the lawn, shovel the snow, plant flowers
  • offer or arrange childcare 
  • give kids/youth rides to school/events
  • help with a move
  • help with a holiday – decorating, cooking…
  • meet regularly for Bible study
  • start a neighborhood Bible Study
  • organize a meal train
  • rides to doctor/therapist appointments 
  • read aloud and finish a book
  • help with taxes, budgeting
  • show the ropes in legal affairs
  • go to the bank for or with, and other errands
  • take time to study and learn about someone’s specific issue

You have less time and room for change in your routine:

  • phone calls, snail mail
  • food. material, or financial donations
  • visit in the hospital
  • gather and offer resources
  • invite this person to join you in your day’s plans
  • take a lonely person with you grocery shopping, out to a sale, or an exhibition
  • wash a car or take it to the car wash
  • ask good questions, actively listen
  • offer an invitation to join your family for dinner
  • change a flat tire
  • play a video game together online
  • watch a pet
  • drop off a meal/dish
  • invite to your favorite sporting event or your son’s little league game
  • watch tv together
  • grab a coffee together

You have little time and energy to spare:

  • encourage mutual friends to participate
  • send flowers or a fruit basket with a nice note
  • give a small yet thoughtful gift
  • pick up packages off the porch for safe-keeping
  • leave an encouraging note  
  • collect the mail
  • messenger, texts, social media, emails
  • cell phone calls on the run
  • pray, let this person know you are praying.
  • make those small connections if your paths cross. “I’m glad to see you.”
  • touch (with their permission- a hug, pat on the back, squeeze an arm)
  • make eye contact, smile, shake a hand warmly
  • inquire about his or her feelings and day. Tell about your day.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Thessalonians 5:14

“…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Dear Supports, The Line Between Concern and Control is Not So Fine. Here are 10 Differences

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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A mother in her late sixties consistently criticized her forty-something son’s job hunt, marriage, and child-rearing. In turn, her daughter-in-law sent her accusatory letters telling her to back-off. 

Over many years, a variety of people had tried to tell the elder woman that her controlling attitude was damaging to her family relationships and ability to work well with others. For as many years, her stubbornness told a different tale; she knew she was right. 

Finally, after losing two careers and a lifetime of closeness to her children, she asked, “What am I doing wrong?”

She asked me. Her question stirred a thoughtful process that led to the following ten-point general comparison between concern and control. 

As supports of anyone who struggles with mental illness, abuse, or addiction, our role is often uncomfortable. We have to make a decision, deep in our character, as to whether we will respect each person’s freedom to choose. After offering what help is reasonable, will we let go?

Two supports in my own struggle with major depression showed opposing attitudes. One said,  “God brought us together so I can fix you.” The other said, “You are powerful, Nancy. You can get through this.” 

Which one do you suppose is still my friend?

Control versus Concern- what is the difference?

1. Concern wants to extend love above all else. Control desires results above all else.

2. Concern is humble and eager to learn. Control knows the answer.

3. Concern actively listens and validates with genuine interest.  Control does not listen.

4. Concern offers hope based on knowledge, insight, and wisdom.  Control offers pat answers, quick-fix solutions, or false hope based on incomplete understanding of a person and his or her needs.

5. Concern accepts responsibility for one’s own life, and patiently leaves others to take responsibility for theirs. Control criticizes, manipulates, and tries to force its will. 

6. Concern offers help when asked, or asks before helping. Control assumes ways to “fix” a situation or person with or without consent.

7. Concern respects the privacy of others.  Control shares what is told in confidence, and  wants in on gossip and rumor.

8. Concern feels some worry, yet also experiences peace by letting go. Control repeatedly expresses frustration and disappointment at slow or unwanted results.

9. Concern feels empathy, pain, or grief, but does not have to own what is not one’s problem. Control takes personally another person’s troubles. 

10. Concern of a Christian believer points people to Jesus. Control is self-worship that can blind others to God’s miraculous power. 

This is not about perfection, it is about growth in love. We all can pass between concern and control at moments. However, making the mistake of living as a controlling person harms relationships and damages those for whom you care so much.

Today’s Helpful Word  

James 3:13-18

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth…  

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.